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 Post subject: New build, micro atx an option?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2008 11:10 am 
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I already have a p182 box that is going to be a dev/server box. I'm looking to put together another box to serve as a main machine. I'm looking for the best performance/price ratio on a nearly silent box since its going in my bedroom. Ideally,the box will idle down to minimal energy usage but will have enough punch to be decent at games/future resistant.

Is MicroATX viable or should I go ATX?
It does not need a ton of drive bays since the other box has plenty of room for network storage.

Is water cooling cooling worth the effort?
My other box is already cooled by a Zalman Reserator and plumbing this new one in would not cost me any more since I have several spare heatsinks. If I can get away with passive cooling then it's clearly an option. The other box will pretty much run 24/7 anyway. Price isn't that big of an issue if quality is there.

Any ideas?


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2008 11:42 am 
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To get your entire system passive would mean sacrificing performance, or assembling the system case-less and letting convection to it's thing. As for water, it's necessary if you want it to be. Air cooling is mighty sufficient unless you plan on high overclocks, or you can afford an expensive, yet quiet water system.

Micro-atx is viable, but what are you looking to build? I love the sff of m-atx cases, minimal footprint, and it's easier to direct airflow inside. But the trade-off is a lack of space to manipulate parts, or install much more than a video card and a pci card.

First, you should get a clearer idea of the kind of system you want to build. You want bleeding performance? Do you want to game? Does it have to be quiet? Do you want it to be a power sipper, or does efficiency not come into the equation? Do you prefer a large tower, or would you rather have a small case? Of course, this is just my list of considerations, but you should at least evaluate the build based on those, or similar ideals.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2008 1:07 pm 
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Good questions and honestly, there is always the conflict of multiple strengths. I'm trying to figure out which strength outweighs what weakness.

If I can go small, reasonably then that's the plan. I would also want to make it as quiet as reasonably possible. I don't intend to overclock the piss out of it just because. If I can pick up a lesser CPU or GPU and overclock them easily then yes, if it makes economical sense then its worth it. If I'm buying a higher price CPU for the same performance but it runs cooler or idles down better to save power costs over time then that would make sense over a lesser CPU overclocked. Ideally, I'm looking for the best bang for the buck cost wise. That may well end up on the higher end of the scale. I'm not overly price sensitive and don't mind springing more for decidedly better. This also goes to the long term value. My current system is nearly 4 years old now and getting long in the tooth. That's why it will become the dev box, file server. It has not seen upgrades since it was pretty decent to begin with.

Can I go Micro-ATX with a 80% vid card? If I can find something small, nice with some kick then thats my favored shot. Am I just better off with a Sonata III case with a big passive heat sink on the CPU and GPU?

I have never had a Micro-ATX case before but have they come of age?

I don't care about blazing speed or blingy lights.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 9:33 am 
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rabidrabit wrote:
Ideally, I'm looking for the best bang for the buck cost wise. That may well end up on the higher end of the scale. I'm not overly price sensitive and don't mind springing more for decidedly better.

Can I go Micro-ATX with a 80% vid card? If I can find something small, nice with some kick then thats my favored shot. Am I just better off with a Sonata III case with a big passive heat sink on the CPU and GPU?

I have never had a Micro-ATX case before but have they come of age?

I don't care about blazing speed or blingy lights.


Sorry for the delayed response. I would set a price limit, and then go from there. Just about any system with a $1000 budget would be amazing given the present prices. You can go mATX, you can definitely get a decent video card to boot. If you game a lot, the video card is more important than the CPU.

Micro ATX cases are aplenty nowadays, Silverstone has some designs that offer full size components to be installed. Even my Antec NSK1300 by default allowed room for full size components, though rather cramped.

I have a quad-core intel Q9400 and an HD3870 video card in my mATX case, only two fans, and I power it with a 200W power brick(well, it sorta works, the wiring is messed up). I could even go with a more powerful video card, and still have the watt and cooling power to comfortably drive the system.

So, do you want us to suggest parts to you?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2008 10:46 am 
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water-cooling is only truely viable if your going to be massively overclocking your system. Otherwise air is always easier, cheaper, and quieter.

mAtx has been viable for years. In fact i have been questioning the viability of full size ATX cases for a while now since basically everything you need is built into modern motherboards. Most expansion card slots are typically never used anymore. Video Card, and SOMETIMES a sound card, though on-board sound has gotten a lot better and is "good enough" for most people.

Look at the Antex NSK3480 case. It is IMHO the best mAtx case on the market. Its small, has a 120mm exhaust fan option, and most importantly the PSU region is thermally separated from the rest of the case, keeping the PSU fan from ramping up under load. Also its fairly inexpensive. I'd replace the stock PSU with either a corsair or enermax modu+. Use a single SLC or Intel MLC SSD drive. Replace the stock exhaust fan with a Scythe S-Flex 1200rpm and undervolt it. Use a nice big tower heatsink on the CPU, and put an AC S1 on your video card. As long as your video card isnt above 100w at load, like an 8800gt 512mb, you should be able to cool it passivly with that heatsink.

This setup would give you an fairly fast computer system that would be basically inaudible.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 7:23 pm 
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OK,

I'm slowly moving in the right direction. I'll be making a new computer desk and wanted something small that could fit under a monitor. For that reason I picked the Antec 1380. I also have a Nvidia GTX 260 for the video. The next step is picking out a CPU/MB combo. Any ideas? Ideally, I'm looking for the best bang for the buck with an eye towards quiet. Something that scales back when not being used is preferable.


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